Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said that his club’s hopes of Champions League football next season depend on winning games when they do not play well, which they finally managed to do by coming from behind to beat Burnley 2-1.
Klopp’s fourth-placed side extend their lead over Arsenal and Manchester United to five and six points and the visit to Manchester City could conceivably see them leapfrog Pep Guardiola’s side.
The German said it was the first “ugly” game at Liverpool he had won. “We all have to get used to it a little bit. It is the first ugly game I won,” he reflected. “Usually when we are not at our best we lost. The only thing is when you aren’t at your best it is close game and that is how it was.”
The Anfield side have generally played well and won or else dropped points this season. The win over Sean Dyche’s side, who for 45 minutes won the aerial battles and most of the first and second-ball challenges, brought Liverpool’s first back-to- back wins of 2017.
Klopp said: “We were dominant enough. We played their game, the ball was in the air and battles for second balls. The goal we conceded we could have done better.
“There were a few other moments, a lot of headed challenges, and then you are 1-0 down. At the end of the first half we had our moments and then we scored a goal, nice goal, cross, there for the easy goal, if you want.
“We knew we have to do better. It was about formation, about orientation, when do we play the long balls. The plan from the beginning was to mix it up. Burnley was in this part of the game better. In the second half we did much better. They had not really a chance in open play. Simon [Mignolet] did an outstanding job for us in these situations [set pieces] and then Emre [Can] with a wonderful strike, a fantastic goal. Our rganisation was better. We had a few counter attacking moments and in the end we won the game.”
Liverpool vs Burnley player ratings
Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s side have still not won away all season but they were resilient and strong in the challenge, and the manager said more “luck” was due.
“It was a good performance, a solid performance. It is a broken record [buy] I thought we deserved something. We were resolute in our defending, good organisation, a good tactical plan, a sublime first goal, two or three other chances. We ruffled their feathers, deliberately made it awkward for them.
“Today is a nearly but we have had too many nearlys on the road. We need to make it happen but if we play like that, we will make it happen.”